Prospective parents all ears in Pat O'Brien's class
Since five of her seven children have already left home to be on their own, Rosmond Roll decided to fill the solitude in her parenting life to become a foster parent. Her days now are occupied with shuttles between different foster care training centers where she takes classes so as to better equip her for the new role.
“I have the time and the love to offer for more children,” she said.
The fifty-seven year old Dominican-American is in her 2nd of a ten-week Model Approach to Parent Preparation (MAPP) training and will soon join 10, 000 other foster parents of the New York City, to look after over 15,000 children. Every year, more than 5,000 children enter foster care in the city and Administration for Children’s Services (ACS) estimates that it needs to recruit more than 1,000 new foster parents annually to ensure a quick and stable home placement for the children.
Foster parents essentially provide a temporary, safe home for a minor until a permanent placement has not been made. Meanwhile, agencies seek permanency for children, in the shape of reunification with biological parents, adoption and permanent transfer of guardianship.
Length of stay in US Foster care
“We act like a stopover for the foster kids till they find a permanent placement,” said Julia Arnett, a 49-year-old foster parent of three children.
For several others however, ties with foster children don’t end as a temporary fix. Through the course of foster parenting, a number of individuals choose to adopt their foster children after having grown close to them.
Stephen McCall, 41, who has had 24 foster children, adopted three brothers aged, 21, 20 and 15 after foster parenting them for some years.
“The bond formed with the boys was very strong,” said he.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, 54 percent of adoptions made in the country in FY2009, were by foster parents.
Jacqueline Garcia, 54, who is currently undergoing trainings to become a foster parent, is keeping the option of adopting children open.
“I will soon become a foster mom, then I might adopt as well,” said the mother of seven children.
“Because I know it’s highly likely to form attachments,” added Garcia, who is looking to foster care two kids, in the age group of 3 to 5 years.
However, foster parenting is definitely not the easiest task to handle, especially, with so many expectations that foster parents have to fulfill and skeptics that they have to listen to. Amongst the most common skepticism that foster parents have to battle with is the entire accusation of being in the foster system to make money.
“There are many foster parents who are in for the money,” said Sharabia Wilson. “My first foster mother was one of them.”
Wilson claims that her foster mother gave her only $60 of the $900 entrusted to her and she wont spend any extra money on anything else. Eventually, on a weekend, Wilson was kicked out of the foster care with nowhere to go, said she.
“If you are looking for money, get a job,” said Wilson. “Foster parenting is not a job,” added she.
However, Edith Holzer says that most foster parents are certainly not in it for the money.
“They have the room in their homes and they want to help needy children,” said Holzer.
“And for doing so, they depend on the money.”
Infact, many a times Holzer says that the foster parents have to reach out for their own pockets, as the money is never enough,
This, according to Stephen McCall is instrumental in the withdrawal of some foster parents. While the percentage of withdrawal is not very high, but the high cost of living and the low funding is burning out many foster parents, said McCall.
In such a scenario, it is highly important for the prospective foster parents to take good note of the preparatory classes as it prepares them for situations and makes parents out of them.
And a good foster parent, according to Jarel Melendez, Youth Advocate of Lawyers for Children, is very crucial as it can determine a child’s development.
Furthermore, foster parents are directly related to homelessness and incarceration amongst the foster children, said Melendez.